Monthly Archives: March 2013

Freelance Income Sources and the 80/20 Rule

I’ll keep this short and sweet. As a freelancer, jobs come from various sources. I wanted to get a visual handle on where mine personally comes from, so I created this graph. Numbers are percentages of total income since I started freelancing 15 months ago:

MathWarehouse-pieSo, about 60% of my income is from my personal network: “Friends & Family” (my direct network, people I already knew reaching out for software help) plus Referrals (my indirect network, friends of friends & family).

I was surprised to see LinkedIn at almost 40%, but the numbers don’t lie. This is from two individuals (not recruiters) reaching out on LinkedIn for help, that turned into successful gigs.

What was surprising is what didn’t make it on the chart: recruiters and job sites. I’ve spent plenty of time talking with recruiters, as well as contacts from sites like, but not a single one turned in to an opportunity.  Using Timothy Ferriss’s beloved Pareto Principal, I’d say that about 80% of my time trying to keep my pipeline full is spent talking with recruiters, searching job sites, and applying/following up with the contacts there.

Yet, this time doesn’t even result in 20% of my income, it results in 0%. Zero percent. In other words, 100% of my freelance income comes from sources reaching out to me, which is both wonderful and chaotic. The wonderful part is that I can use this data to invalidate spending time on looking for new opportunities. The chaotic part is that I have no control over my pipeline, so I have to have faith that jobs will keep appearing. For 15 months, they have, but if anything changes, I’ll be sure to let you know!

For anyone else freelancing, I’d definitely recommend this exercise. Personally, I learned that I should generally ignore recruiters and job boards, while making sure to keep my personal network impressed with my work and maintaining a nice LinkedIn profile.


Side-Effects of not Launching with Android

The recent launch of Vine made me wonder why a big company with plenty of resources wouldn’t launch with Android support. While I think there are tons of merits to being lean and getting one platform out there, not launching with cross-platform support has some nasty side-effects, especially when the other platform is the largest market percentage.

Even when you later release an Android app, here’s what happens:

  1. Android users have already accepted that they can’t use your app. Getting users to install your app at peak hype is great. If you release an Android version even a month later, I’m likely way less interested in playing around with it, because I’ve already seen other people use it, have an understanding of it, and it lacks freshness and excitement. I can’t be an early adopter? I don’t want to join late to the game.
  2. Android users may never know you now support Android. One of your biggest moments of PR is likely product launch. One of your smallest is probably the same exact features on another platform. Unless your Android support is somehow a huge story that gets written up on every tech blog like your launch, I’ll probably never see it and will never know I can begin using it, even if I am really excited about it.

Both of these happened to me with Instagram. When I first heard about it, it sounded cool, so I looked for it on the Android market and realizing it wasn’t there, made a sad face and went on with my life. I didn’t find about their Android support until much later (unless you set up a Google Alert for “instagram android”, I’m not sure how you would), and by then the hype was gone and being such a late adopter wasn’t nearly as interesting.

On a higher level, this probably creates a negative feedback loop for non-iOS platform shares. These factors mean you engage a lower percent of Android users, biasing its share. This leads to others looking at that data and using it to validate an even more delayed Android launch, and so on.

Of course, this applies primarily to the mobile phone space. Some apps have released only for iPad, and as the Android tablet space doesn’t seem as mature and doesn’t have nearly the market, that decision seems reasonable. What do you think?